BYU baseball looks to make run in WCC tournament

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PROVO — The BYU baseball team qualified for the West Coast Conference tournament by finishing third (16-11) in WCC play. Qualifying for the tournament, let alone with the third seed, was a big surprise to BYU fans after being projected to finish sixth in the WCC preseason poll. The Cougars failed to qualify for the WCC tournament a year ago after finishing with an overall record of 22-31.

The Cougars are led by starting pitcher Kolton Mahoney and All-West Coast Conference first team 1B/3B Dillon Robinson. Mahoney has had a down season a year after being drafted in the 23rd round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Mahoney is 4-7 on the year with a 5.08 ERA. Robinson has had a great year hitting the ball batting .354 with four home runs and 38 RBIs.

Starting pitcher Brandon Kinser, All-West Coast Conference second team SS Hayden Nielsen and All-West Coast Conference freshman team DH Colton Shaver are also having good seasons. Kinser, although Mahoney is being looked at by MLB scouts, has had arguably the better year. Kinser is 6-3 on the year with a 4.29 ERA. Nielsen is batting .336 with 12 doubles and 36 RBIs. Shaver has had an unbelievable freshman season hitting a team-leading 13 home runs and 41 RBIs.

The Cougars are having a stellar season at the plate, hitting .298 as a team. The mound has been the Cougars' downfall this year. The pitchers have a combined 5.11 ERA.

Head coach Mike Littlewood, in his third season, has his work cut out for him. Littlewood and the Cougars face the 2014 regular season and WCC tournament champion Pepperdine Waves, who finished 17-10 in WCC play. The good news is the Cougars won the season series with the Waves 2-1, including a 6-5 walk-off in 10 innings.

Pepperdine is led by All-West Coast Conference first team 1B Hutton Moyer. Moyer leads the team in home runs (12) and tied for the team lead in RBIs (35). The Waves’ pitching, combined ERA of 4.08, versus the Cougars' bats, will be the key in the day one matchup.

The WCC tournament is a three-day, double-elimination tournament with the championship being played Saturday, May 23, at 7 p.m. PDT on ESPNU. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to play in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cougars and Waves play today at 7 p.m. PDT. It will be streamed live on Nathan Harker is a sports writing intern currently enrolled at Brigham Young University majoring in broadcast journalism. He can be reached at or via Twitter @nharker3207.

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